School’s losing battle

2015-02-12 00:00

A NEW Hanover farmer, Carol Scheuer, has threatened to shut down the Fortmannspruit Primary School on her land because of the lack of support from the Department of Education.

A total of 60 pupils from Grade one to Grade three are squashed into one classroom with one teacher. Grades six and seven also share a class. The school has four teachers and about 135 pupils from impoverished families.

Scheuer said she pays the school’s electricity and water bills, and foots the bill for repairs and maintenance, totalling over R10 000 a month. She said sometimes the Education Department does not even provide stationery.

“I can’t have these poor pupils being taught badly on my premises. I have been nagging the department for help with more teachers and classrooms but it has said there is no money. Government must come to the party or else I will have to close it down,” Scheuer said.

“This is the foundation phase and these pupils need to be schooled appropriately because this impacts negatively on matric results. The pass rate has been deteriorating and we are just pushing pupils through to the next grades.”

The Grade one to three teacher, who asked not to be named, described her class as “chaotic and uncontrollable”. “It’s really hard to teach numerous grades in one class. It is often noisy and disorganised. I have to give them all ­attention … but at times I struggle to balance that.”

Scheuer added: “The situation makes me angry. This is unfair, but we always try our best although it’s difficult.”

She said she had been calling and sending e-mails to the department for years pleading for assistance but ­departmental spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said they were unaware of the problems, adding that the matter would be investigated.

University of KwaZulu-Natal educational analyst Dr Vimolan Mudaly said most public schools, especially in disadvantaged communities, have conditions that are not conducive to learning.

“It is guaranteed most of the pupils won’t succeed. This means the teacher is in the class for the sake of being there. I’m not convinced that learning and teaching is actually taking place in that school,” Mudaly said. “The department must take responsibility. The school is bleeding and there is no time for investigation. It must soon find a solution.”

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union secretary in KZN Nomarashiya Caluza described the situation as ­“unfortunate” and said they have been calling for the department to abolish the multi-grading system.

“If you fail to build a strong foundation, you can’t expect a good product because these pupils aren’t adequately schooled at foundation level.”

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.co.za

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